This easy and delicious Vegan Coffee and Walnut Cake is a classic flavor combo in its simplest form. Enjoy this loaf-pan cake for breakfast or dessert, with a spot of coffee or tea. It’s also a great option for any holiday gathering, especially in the cooler months.
This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for details.
Hey Internet, I thought I’d make a cake, but I wanted to be easy. This vegan coffee cake is perfect, because you can make it in one bowl, bake it in a loaf pan, and there you go!
If you can’t have walnuts, no fear. Any other type of nut or seed will work - or you can leave out the nuts completely and it will still be a delicious cake!
I actually normally do things nut-free, like vegan nut-free cheese. But I was really craving walnuts and after a few too many episodes of a famous British baking show on Netflix, I was in a baking mood.’
Plus, it’s so fun to bake in fall. Or is it fun to eat in fall? Well it’s all pretty fun, as long as there’s cake.
Ok now I just sound crazy.
Let’s get back to this vegan coffee and walnut cake, shall we?
This vegan coffee cake is perfect with coffee (hence the name) or tea, which I personally prefer. It’s also just great whenever.
It’s actually a very customizable cake, and you can use less sugar if you want it to be more breakfast like, and more if you want it to be more dessert-like. I actually used a pretty in-between amount, so it’s not too sweet, but that cinnamon sugar swirl packs a sweet punch.
Wait, did I say cinnamon sugar swirl?
While it’s not a proper swirl in the movement sense of the word, there is a delicious layer of cinnamon sugar (and walnuts, if using) in the middle of the cake and oof, it is yummy and totally easy to achieve.
You’ll see soon enough; let’s get into it!
What You’ll Need
Note: Check out the substitutions section below to see what you can customize.
For this vegan coffee cake, let’s start with the obvious: flour, baking powder, salt. And, a little cinnamon!
For the sugar, I used coconut sugar as it’s the perfect flavor for this cake (warm and cinnamon-like). It’s also lower on the glycemic index than regular sugar (a bit) and it’s an unrefined sugar.
As the oil replacement, I used unsweetened applesauce, and for the egg replacer I recommend flax seed. Luckily the minute nutty taste they have works perfectly with this recipe.
Finally, a touch of apple cider vinegar, unsweetened non-dairy milk, and a dash of vanilla extract makes up the base of this recipe.
Now for more oomph:
Walnuts. Obviously, this is a vegan coffee and walnut cake, so there’s walnuts.
While you can leave them out, they’re totally delicious. I use them both inside the cake and on the streusel topping.
And cinnamon sugar. I quickly made my own cinnamon sugar for this cake by mixing a quarter cup of cane sugar (can also use coconut sugar for this, it’ll just be darker) with ¾ teaspoon of cinnamon.
The ratio is purely personal preference, but a word of caution as cinnamon can be easy to overdo. If that happens, just add more sugar, and use the leftovers for vegan french toast sticks.
Oh, and almost forgot the streusel ingredients!
The Streusel Topping
I actually use this streusel topping recipe a lot so I really should make it its own recipe. It’s also super easy!
What is streusel?
Streusel is a crumbly dessert topping often made from a fat (usually butter), flour, sugar, and a little cinnamon or similar.
It goes on the raw batter of the cake, and bakes up all crispy, crumbly, and delicious. Kind of like granola but for cake.
Instead of butter, I’ve used coconut cream, the thicker white coconut goodness in a can of coconut milk. I prefer to buy canned coconut cream because you get more of the thick stuff for your money.
I also love a bit of texture in my streusel, so my recipe for it goes like this:
- Light or dark brown sugar
- Rolled oats
- Chopped walnuts
- Coconut Cream (or sub vegan butter)
Fun fact, I tested this recipe a few times, but when I went to make it to photograph it, I realized too late I was out of cinnamon so I used Pumpkin Pie Spice instead! Still pretty delicious honestly.
Probably because pumpkin pie spice is mostly cinnamon.
And then I found my extra cinnamon while cleaning my pantry later, lol.
But I digress. Let’s get back to the recipe, specifically the substitutions.
What Substitutions Can I Make?
I used regular all purpose flour for this recipe, but I can see it working well with whole wheat or spelt flour. Just use a bit more moisture (as the batter calls for it, it should still be a thick batter; one you spread instead of pour).
For a gluten-free vegan coffee cake, I recommend using a quality cup for cup flour like King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour or Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour.
Coconut Sugar is a sugar very similar to light brown sugar in taste, though it’s a little less moist. You can substitute it with organic cane sugar or organic light brown sugar, though and the recipe should work fine.
Applesauce works great as a low fat oil-replacement. You can certainly use oil if you wish, or use another replacer like mashed banana or pumpkin puree, both of which would be delicious in this recipe.
Flax eggs are my go-to egg replacer. Once ground, mixed with a little water (1:2, ground flaxseed to water), and set for a few minutes, they become a gel binder consistency perfect for replacing eggs.
However, you can substitute ground chia seeds, or a commercial vegan egg replacer like Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer if desired.
If you can’t have walnuts you can still make a delicious vegan coffee cake. Sub out another nut like chopped almonds or simply omit--no need to alter the recipe. It will still be absolutely delicious.
Tips for Making Vegan Coffee and Walnut Cake
- I like to make all my cakes in one bowl, but if you wish you can still mix the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls and then combine.
- Start by mixing together your flax eggs. They’ll set on the counter in 10 minutes, or in the fridge in just 3-5 minutes. Just don’t forget to add them (I do this more often than I’d care to admit).
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 177 degrees Celsius) and either line your loaf pan with parchment paper, grease with coconut cream like I do, or spray with a baking/cooking oil spray.
- Start by mixing your dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk to evenly distribute the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.
- Make a well in the center with a spatula or clean fingers and pour all wet ingredients in the center.
- Mix until just combined. It should be a thick spreadable batter.
- This step is to add the stripe/swirl of cinnamon sugar and walnuts in the center of the cake, so it’s optional. Spoon or spatula half the batter into the pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle in the cinnamon sugar in an even layer (go as light or heavy as you like), and add a single layer of chopped walnuts. Then add the rest of your batter on top.
- If you did not do the stripe, just put all the batter into the pan.
- Make your streusel by mixing together the coconut cream (can use vegan butter instead) with the rest of the ingredients and sprinkle, heavy handedly, across the top of the batter.
- Bake uncovered for 50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Let it cool for at least 10 minutes (but no more than 30) before turning it out onto a cooling rack. I recommend doing it around 15 or 20 minutes. Run a butter knife around the inner edge if you wish, to make sure it separates from the edge of the pan.
- Serve with coffee, tea, non-dairy milk or just on its own and enjoy!
More Easy Vegan Desserts
- Mug Brownie
- Smores Cookie Bake
- Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies (no chill)
- Apple Cake
- Matcha Pound Cake
- Banana Bread
- Coconut Almond Butter Cookies
I really hope you like this recipe! I know I do and so does Mr. Zardyplants, who was happy to eat up all the extra cake we had from testing.
This vegan coffee and walnut cake is:
- Sweet but not too sweet
- Moist (sorry)
- Super Fall-y
- And really easy to make!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!